Make the most of your $180 Moto G with these 12 tips and tricks

The greatest trick that the Moto G has pulled off is blowing away the budget Android smartphone competition with a set of specs that is far in advance of what you can get anywhere else for the same money. In our Moto G review we described it as the bargain of the year. It is already rapidly selling out across the world, and the US version will no doubt follow suit.

Initially released with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, the Moto G is set to get next version of Android, 4.4 KitKat, soon. Since Motorola applied a light touch in terms of its own user interface, and the Moto G is close to stock Android, some of these tips are general tips for the platform, but a few will focus on the specific delights of the Moto G.

How to get help with Moto Care

Motorola Moto G ss infoIf you head into your apps and tap Moto Care, then you’ll find a wealth of help, interactive tutorials, and tips about your Moto G. You can search for whatever you want, check tutorials and guides by tapping the question mark at the top left, or view suggested changes at the top right. Taking a leaf out of Amazon’s book, Motorola also offers live help from an actual human being. Just tap the Chat or Call options at the bottom of Moto Care and you can have an instant messaging chat or a phone conversation with customer support to get the help you need.

How to move over contacts and files from your old phone

If you have an older Android smartphone that you’re moving from, then it’s very easy to get all of your photos, music, texts, contacts, and even your call history transferred over to the Moto G. Simply download the free Motorola Migrate app on your old phone and follow the instructions. We also have a full guide to make the transition easy for anyone switching from iOS to Android.

How to stay safe

If you stick to Google Play for apps then you shouldn’t have to worry too much about malware, but it’s worth installing a security app. Check out our guide to the top three security apps on Android and you’ll find malware protection and anti-theft tools that won’t cost you a penny. You can also check out some useful tips in our Android app security basics.

It’s worth taking the time to set up Android Device Manager or another app that can help you to locate your phone should it ever go missing. Try our guide on how to track an Android phone for more on that.

How to use the camera

Motorola-Moto-G-ss-filtersThe camera on the Moto G isn’t the best, but it’s perfectly capable of capturing some good shots. You can tap anywhere on screen to take a photo. That also works while you are recording a video. Touch and hold the screen to grab a series of quick shots. You can swipe to the right to bring up your menu of options for everything from HDR to Geo-tagging.  

How to get more from the lock screen

It’s a good idea to set up some security to prevent anyone from accessing your phone, but Android also allows you to quickly access specific functions without having to unlock first. When you are on the lock screen you can swipe left to launch the camera, or swipe right to access lock screen widgets. There’s a long list of potential lock screen widgets covering everything from music controls to incoming messages. If you are running Android 4.4 then you’ll need to enable them via Settings > Security > Enable widgets.

How to take a screenshot

To take a screenshot on your Moto G simply hold the Power and Volume down keys at the same time. You’ll hear the shutter sound and see an animation that indicates you captured the shot and it will be available for sharing in your notification shade. You can also find your screenshots in a separate folder in the Gallery app.

How to use Motorola Assist

Motorola Moto G ss assistYou can get a little extra help with Motorola Assist; you’ll find it listed in your apps. It allows you to set your Moto G to automatically switch to hands-free mode and fire up your music in the car, observe your usual sleep hours to ensure that you don’t get disturbed, and automatically go silent during scheduled meetings. You’ll find the Driving, Sleeping, and Meeting options in the Assist app and you can configure it the way you want. If you find that you love the idea of Assist, but you want more power, then check out an app called Tasker ($3), as it allows you to automate all sorts of functions on your Moto G.

How to improve your typing

The traditional typing method of tapping each letter is available, but if you haven’t tried it, we really recommend checking out the gesture keyboard which allows you to swipe a path between letters without lifting your finger or thumb off the screen. It’s great for one-handed typing. You’ll find the option in Settings > Language & input. You’ll also find an option labeled Personal dictionary and you can alter the words your phone suggests while you type in here, so it’s worth adding a few that you use frequently to help speed that typing along.

How to get more storage

The Moto G comes with 8GB or 16GB of internal storage and there’s no MicroSD card slot to expand that. However, you do get 15GB of free storage on Google Drive, and in some regions there’s an extra 50GB on top, which is free for two years if you redeem it within 30 days of activating your Moto G. Fire up the Google Drive app to check.

How to backup photos and videos

You can make sure your photos and videos are automatically backed up and stored in the cloud for easy access anywhere. If you use Google+ then you’ll find the option Auto-Backup in the app under Settings. Tap on it for a full list of configuration options. You have 15GB available in there.

You can back up contacts and other basic data via Settings > Accounts and tap Google then choose what you would like to sync.

How to transfer files wirelessly

Dropbox_appYou could use DropBox to transfer files. The Dropbox app is free and you can install the free client on your laptop or computer and then share folders and files across the cloud. You can also use Dropbox to back up photos by firing up the app and going into Settings where you’ll find a Camera upload option.

Another great app for quickly and easily sharing files from your desktop is AirDroid. It can also enable you to send and receive SMS on your computer, locate your phone, and more.

How to get Moto X style voice activation

The Moto X is always listening for your voice and you can command Google Now without having to touch your phone first. Sadly that’s not a standard feature of the Moto G, but you can try out Open Mic+ for a taste of what it’s like. The app is not perfect, but it is free, it allows you to activate Google Now without touching your phone, and you can change the activation phrase from “Okay Google” to whatever you like.

That’s all of our Moto G tips for now, but we will add more in the future. You may also want to check out our Android Jelly Bean tips, or find out how to reduce your data usage. Got a tip of your own? Post a comment.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: